TikTok is giving parents new options to control how their kids use the app.

Thanks to "Family Pairing", parents and guardians can link their kids’ accounts to their own and then they'll be free to disable direct messages, turn on restricted content mode, and set screen time limits. To be clear, once the two accounts are linked, parents can control their kid’s settings from their own phone, whereas before they had to change the settings on their kid’s device.

TikTok had allowed parents to set passcodes so that kids couldn't turn off some settings without consent, but this solution is way more convenient. 

1/5Pocket-lint/TikTok

How to use Family Pairing

Parents who want to use Family Pairing must create their own TikTok accounts. Parents then need to get their children (TikTok has an age limit of 13) to agree to have their accounts linked via Family Pairing. Once they've agreed, parents simply need to scan a QR code buried inside the Digital Wellbeing section of their kid’s TikTok account. Follow these steps:

  1. Open TikTok on both phones.
  2. Go to profile, then head to settings (it's the "..." button in the top-right corner).
  3. Scroll down to Digital Wellbeing.
  4. Tap Family Pairing and select whether the phone belongs to the adult or the teen.
  5. You'll have to scan a QR code on one phone with the other to link the accounts.
  6. Now, the adult can access the parent password-protect security features.

Kids will be able to disable the Family Pairing feature at any time, though the parents will receive a notification.

How Family Pairing works

Here's what you can do with TikTok's Family Pairing feature.

Screen Time Management

You can remotely control how long your teen can spend on TikTok each day.

However, even without Family Pairing enabled, parents can manage this setting directly on their teen's device. Just follow these steps:

  1. Open the latest version of the TikTok app.
  2. Go to profile, then head to settings (it's the "..." button in the corner).
  3. Scroll down to Digital Wellbeing.
  4. Select Screen Time Management.
  5. Press the red button to turn it on.
  6. Set and confirm a passcode.
  7. The time limit is then set to 60 minutes

To turn off Screen Time Management, repeat steps one through four and then tap "Turn off Screen Time Management."

Direct Messages

You can remotely limit who sends messages to your teen's account, or you can turn off direct messaging completely. 

Again, even without Family Pairing enabled, parents can manage this setting directly on their teen's device. Just follow these steps:

  1. Open the latest version of the TikTok app on your teen's device.
  2. Go to profile, then head to settings (it's the "..." button in the corner).
  3. Scroll down to Privacy and safety.
  4. Select Who can send you messages.
  5. Choose Everyone, Friends, or Off.

You can also limit comments and other engagement tools in TikTok.

Restricted Mode

You can restrict the appearance of content that may not be appropriate for kids. It’s not clear how well this works, as TikTok hasn't revealed how it screens videos. For an app of this scale, it’s likely a mix of AI and users flagging videos. We suspect it's not always 100 per cent accurate.

If parents don't want to use Family Pairing enabled, just manage this setting directly on the teen's device. Follow these steps:

  1. Open the latest version of the TikTok app on your teen's device.
  2. Go to profile, then head to settings (it's the "..." button in the corner).
  3. Scroll down to Digital Wellbeing.
  4. Select Restricted Mode.
  5. Tap "Turn on Restricted Mode.
  6. Set and confirm a passcode.

To turn off Restricted Mode, repeat steps one through four and then tap "Turn off Restricted Mode."

Where is Family Pairing available?

TikTok's Family Pairing went live in the UK in February 2020 (but it was called Family Safety Mode when it originally launched there). The feature will arrive for users in the US sometime in late April or early May 2020.